Turkey’s newly launched anti-terror operation in northern Syria liberated 11 villages in Tal Abyad town and Ras al-Ayn city from People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Thursday.
The villages of al-Yabisah and Tal Fandar were the first ones cleared of terrorists as part of the Operation Peace Spring — launched Wednesday east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Later, the villages of Musheirifa, Dadat, Bir Ashiq and Hamidiyah in Tal Abyad and Kishto in Ras al-Ayn were also cleared of terrorists.
The villages of Lower Kishto west of Ras al-Ayn, Barzan, Al Jadedah and Gisas were also rid of terrorists.
Meanwhile, the National Syrian Army disconnected a YPG supply line through Dirbasiye district in Al-Hasakah.
Syrian National Army forces are taking security precautions in the villages located west of Tal Abyad.
The Turkish military opened fire on 181 YPG targets in northern Syria, as commandos participating in Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring started advancing east of the Euphrates.
Footage of commandos opening fire as they advanced was also published by the ministry.
“Using air forces elements and fire support vehicles, the Turkish Armed Forces have opened fire on a total of 181 targets belonging to the terrorist organization (YPG) under the scope of Operation Peace Spring,” the ministry said.
In a later statement, the ministry said YPG terrorists take cover in civilian compounds, including schools and hospitals to carry out mortar and rocket attacks against civilian areas.
Turkey does not plan to cross 30-kilometer (19-mile) mark in the operation, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday.
Speaking to CNN’s Turkish Television Channel, Çavuşoğlu said: “The purpose of the operation is to remove terrorists from this area. The range of rockets coming to Akçakale [a district of Turkey’s southeastern Şanlıurfa province] from Nusaybin [in Syria] is about 30 kilometers.”
Turkey plans to widen the safe zone, not limiting it to 120 km (74 miles), Çavuşoğlu said. “The whole border [between Turkey and Syria] must be made a safe zone,” he added.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK’s Syrian offshoot the YPG, on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.
The operation, conducted in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists. The YPG is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the PKK terror group’s Syrian affiliate.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home.